Topic: Sports & Entertainment

“Cooter” Lashes Out

Ben Jones, whose career highlight was either being a U.S. Congressman or playing “Cooter” on “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV show, depending on how much reverence you have for Congressmen these days, has called for a public boycott of the new movie based on the show. In a press release, Jones notes that “From all I have seen and heard, the ‘Dukes’ movie is a sleazy insult to all of us who have cared about the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ for so long.” So he’s demanding that the producers take all the sex out of the movie, which if you’ve seen Jessica Simpson in her Daisy Duke shorts would probably require putting her in a burka. “Let’s send them a message: ‘If you don’t clean it up, we’re not going to see it.’ Maybe a kick in their pocketbook will get their attention,” concludes the epistle from “Cooter’s Place.”

What’s the matter with this? Well, to begin with, all Jones has actually seen is the film’s trailer, so he has no legitimate basis to be calling for a boycott. This is irresponsible and unfair, but there’s a twist, and he hints at it in the release: “You probably know that the creators of this film wanted absolutely nothing to do with the original members of the cast,” he writes. “Doesn’t that seem strange to you, given how popular our show is right now, and how popular our cast still is? After all, our huge success for so many years is the reason they are making the film, and the film, after all, is about usÂ…

“Sure it bothers me that they wanted nothing to do with the cast of our show, but what bothers me much more is the profanity laced script with blatant sexual situations that mocks the good clean family values of our series. Now, anybody who knows me knows that I’m not a prude. But this kind of toilet humor has no place in Hazzard County. Rather than honoring our legendary show, they have chosen to degrade it.”

Translation: the original cast wanted to get involved in this project and get a piece of the pie, and because “Cooter” is now an old coot and the original Daisy Duke, Catherine Bach, couldn’t fit into her old cut-offs with a crow-bar and half the cast is dead, the producers didn’t bite. This boycott smells of pay-back.

When you think about it, Jones’ argument is pretty hard to swallow. The TV show about moonshine runners who routinely break the law in dozens of ways may have been harmless fantasy, but the lists of “family values” usually don’t include “bootlegging.” And while there may still be fans of the original who aren’t embarrassed to admit they ever watched the show, The Dukes of Hazzard was undeniably one of the dumbest programs that ever made it on the air. “Legendary?” “The Dukes of Hazzard” made a Roadrunner cartoon look like Timon of Athens; it made “Three’s Company” look like a Noel Coward play; it made “The Beverly Hillbillies” look like Kaufman and Hart.

Deathless art, it wasn’t.

Boycotts are serious things, have serious financial consequences, and should be reserved for use as a last resort in issues of grave importance. For Jones to set out to hurt a studio’s bottom line because he finds Jessica Simpson’s thespian take on Daisy Duke a tad carnal, or worse, because he’s ticked-off that the film’s producers didn’t give one last hurrah to an old character actor who can’t get a part or win an election, or even worse still, because he’s hoping to get himself back into the news, is self-centered and nasty conduct that the fictional Cooter wouldn’t have tolerated.

And it isn’t on the list of “family values’ either.

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